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tv   Panel Discussion on Mental Health  CSPAN  October 13, 2013 1:00pm-2:31pm EDT

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the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, retired admiral dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the guest chaplain: let us pray. godguest chaplain: let us pray. >> let us pray.reat lord possibilities, help our lawmakers turn this impasse into a bypass so that the heart of our nation may beat vibrantly and strong. lord, on our coins and currency we have placed the words "in god we trust." give our lawmakers the wisdom to
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trust you and each other, turning the stubbornness of impossibilities into the blessings of creative possibilities. you are our god, and we refuse to entertain fears about our nation's future, for we remember how you have led this great republic in the past. make a way out of no way, answer our prayers, and use your powerful arms to keep our nation safe and secure. we pray in your great name. amen.
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the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., october 13, 2013. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable heidi heitkamp, a senator from the state of north dakota, to perform the duties of the chai. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i move to proceed to calendar number 211, the debt ceiling bill. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to s. 1569, a bill to ensure the
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complete and time plaiment of the obligations of the united states government until december 31 20, 14. -- december 31, 2014. mr. reid: we're going to have some speakers throughout today's session. has the clerk reported the title of the bill -- i'm sorry. i wasn't paying attention, as i should. the presiding officer: the clerk has reported. mr. reid: we have speakers throughout today's session. senators are permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each. we'll see -- have more information at a subsequent time as to how late we'll be in. madam president, yesterday republicans voted to stop the senate from even debating legislation to avert a catastrophic default on the debt. they stopped this body from even discussing the single most important issue facing this nation -- the loss of the full faith and credit of our great country. they did so under the pretext that refusing to pay the country's bills would somehow
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make those bills disappear. no one denies that this nation has work to do to reduce its debt. republicans say this country should default on its debt today. they're the same republicans who ran up the debt just a few short years ago. these same republicans charged more than $4 trillion in tax breaks for the rich on the american taxpayers' credit card. they paid for two wars costing about $2 trillion with borrowed money. and they rang up $4 billion tab for a medicare prescription drug plan. and, madam president, they ran up the nation's credit card for years and years on lots of stuff. now, madam president, there was one qufertio conversation on one sunday shows today that said we were trying to break the caps
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set in the budget act. we know that on january 15, the second year of sequestration. madam president, we voted differently than that. we voted to extend the c.r. until november 15, not a word about breaking the caps. we're happy to go forward with the c.r., as we've already voted for in this body. any talk about breaking the caps is not anything that came from us. so, yet every single republican refused yesterday to even talk about paying the bill, now that it's due. madam president, the presiding officer and everyone in this body knows -- and i think the american people know -- that i met yesterday with senator mcconnell. we're in conversation today. i'm confident the republicans will allow the government to open and extend the ability of this country to pay its bills.
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and i'm going to do everything that i can throughout the day to accomplish just this. it's important we do this. we must do this. it's the height of hypocrisy to not pay our bills, the height of irresponsibility. the americans want congress to compromise. they want congress to give economic certainty and security, not more indecision and doubt. americans want congress to do its job. that's all we're -- that's all they're asking us toad. -- asking us to do. americans want congress to reopen government, take the threat of default off the table and sit down to talk about a long-term budget deal that creates jobs and strengthens the middle class. i'm confident and hopeful that will be accomplished. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, senators are permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the majority whip. mr. durbin: madam president -- madam president, i want to thank the majority leader for his
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statement, and we're hoping that there'll be a positive development -- there'll be positive developments today and very quickly relative to the impasse which we have reached much it is tame to reopen this government. it's time to make certain that we pay our bills and then let us engage in honest debate on the issues that are before us -- and there are many. the forum toker tha toker that s the -- the forum for that debate is the conference committee. papatty murray passed a budget n the floor of the senate six months ago. senator murray and others on our side have tried on 21 separate occasions to ask for unanimous consent to go to this budget conference committee to start debating the issues we which we now see in the press every day. 21 separate times, a the republicans have a objected to even meeting.
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that's unfortunate and is one of the reasons we're here today. it is hard to believe if you're in the midst of this maelstrom that not even two weeks have passed since we started this debate on the floor of the senate, which has led to this terrible situation. two weeks ago our government was open. there was a good thinking -- or at least a good hope -- that we were going to extend the debt ceiling of the united states. now we're in a much different place. we are just two days away from the second weekending of a full government -- the second weekendin ending of a full government shutdown. that's an unfortunate situation for these employees and their families but for the american people as well. what the house republicans have learned -- and those senate republicans supporting them -- is that this government shutdown has real-world consequences. i can remember taking my kids to chukchchuckie cheese and watchis
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whack a mole game. if a story comes out suggesting that people are being denied critical care at the national institutes of health, they say we'll reopen that part of government f a tragic story comes out that families who lost a loved one in service to this country, they will pass aexception to the budget. the v.a. the same way, fema, same way. it is unfair to the american people. their extra strategy, as convoluted as it is, is they will pass these bills one at a time to fund our government until it gets down to a handful of agencies they just don't care for. one of the agencies that the right-wing spokes people have identified that they want to close down -- the environmental protection agency. they want to close down the environmental protection agency. that's an outrageous statement.
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er yoyou may disagree with the y of that agency -- i disagree with some myself -- but when it comes down this its important mission -- to make sure we have safe drinking water and air that is not going to create public health hazards -- i hope it's something that most people, regardless of their political background, would agree is an important government funk. -- an important government function. but this piecemeal strategy has resulted in a predictment for our government. basic services cannot be provided. the other day a republican senator came to the floor and said, let's at least agree that we should open fema, the federal emergency management agency. natural disasters do ohio cur and so he made a motion to open that agency. wouldn't you also want to open the weather service to make sure they're fully staffed to warn people before a disaster occurs? wouldn't you also want to make sure that the agencies that arrive on the scene of disasters like the small business agency
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to try to get businesses tbhak place should also be reopened? shouldn't the cost guard be fully funded to make sure that if there's need for rescue, they are present? well, he reflected on it, said let's include all those. that's the problem with picking and chootion agencies. you're going to miss something, something critically important. that's what he we face. secondly on this debt ceiling, as awful it is toss face a shutdown in government, for the united states to default on its national debt for the first time in history would be catastrophic. that isn't my word. it is a word given to us by the business round table, the leaders of major businesses in the united states have said, if we default on our debt for the first time, it will be catastrophic. october 17, thursday, is the day. if we haven't taken action by then, we risk default. yesterday we tried to pass what we call a clean extension of the debt ceiling. no political strings attached,
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just extend it until the end of next year. all we asked our republican colleagues to do was to allow us to bring this measure to the floor for debate, for amendment. not one single republican senator -- not one -- would vote to allow us to even proceed to the bill so that we could start the debate and, in a timely way, to respond to this challenge of the expiration of our debt ceiling witness day night. -- wednesday night. if you listen to the business leaders across america, they will tell you that there's a lot at stake. this is not just another political issue. since world war ii, the united states has worked -- effectively worked -- to make the united states dollar the soundest currency 23 in the world. think about that. that u.s. dollar is the investment of choice of governments all around the world. they believe the safest place to be is in u.s. treasuries. and why? because the united states always
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pays its debts, period. now the house republicans and other republicans have said, maybe we won't pay all our debts. maybe we'll go into something called "priorization." pick and choose debts you want to pay. well, many of us tried that when we were young and in college, and it caches with you. after a while, you find out you just can't do that. now put yourself in the position of a great nation, a nation that has to make $50 million to $80 million a month -- 50 to 80 million decisions a month, i should say, as to how they will pay the debts that are owed by the u.s. govment ho government. how will you prioritize them? many republicans say we'll first start by paying our largest creditors. in other words, pay china first. well, how soon will we pay social security recipients, those waiting for veterans checks, those who are owed money
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from our government, the transfers to states and localities that are critical for the ongoing operations of their government and their own credit rating? it is a ridiculous idea. it reminds me of soviet rism re- soviet revisionism when they talk about how easy will be to prioritize and default on our debt. it will be disastrous. the flat-earth economists who are preaching this don't have a leg to stand on. economists and business leaders, many of whom are conservative republicans, have warned the republicans, don't do this. this is something that will cause dpaj for a long time to come. -- damage for a long time to cox threat of default in 2012, interest rates on four-week treasury bills tripled and they're at the highest level since october 2008. fidelity investments, the largest u.s. money market mutual fund liquidated all of their short-term treasury bills just on the threft of default of our debt. is this default or is this debt
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ceiling extension something extraordinary? the honest answer is no. we've done it so ru routinely tt most people haven't noticed. congress has extended the debt ceiling 49 times under republican presidents, 29 times under democrats. the debt was increased by 189% under ronald reagan. 189% increase in the debt, compared to a little over 40% increase under president obama. debt ceiling increases have often been paired with other issues, but only recently has the threat of default been used as a bargaining chip. i know that if we fail to extend this debt ceiling, it will be catastrophic. a lot of people will suffer. i think about families, working families, with their savings accounts, perhaps their retirement accounts. imagine, if you will, what it means to them to lose 5%, 10% of the value of their savings. they work hard, many of them
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barely scrape by just getting paycheck to paycheck, put a little money away for the future, and now because of political gamesmanship on capitol hill, their hard-earned savings are at stake. that is the height of irresponsibility. that is the height of recklessness. the fact that we couldn't get one republican vote yesterday to go forward on this is as troubling as anything that's happened on the floor of the senate as anything i can remember. this is something we should all agree to move forward on. i am hopeful that these discussions between senator reid, the democratic majority leader, and senator mcconnell, the republican leader, will bear fruit. i hope they can find a sensible, common ground to spare us of what we face. i hope we can end this government shutdown, pay our bills and then engage in a meaningful regular order, honest debate in our budget conference over many of the other issues that challenge us as a nation. that is what we were elected to do, that's what we must do, and
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those who are arguing that we need to continue this confrontation and take it to a high noon scenario, frankly it's not very courageous on their part. it is pretty easy to be politically courageous with other people's money, and that's what's happening with those republicans who are arguing that we should default on our national debt. they are playing with the savings of working families across america. that isn't fair to these families. we ought to stand by them, push for economic growth, creation of jobs and not what this will do, damage this nation's recovery. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: madam president, over the last few days, there has been a lot of talk about negotiating. there has been a lot of
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negotiating. and that's good. various senators and small and large groups have been talking about how long it -- various senators and small and large groups have been talking about how long a continuing resolution should be in effect, how much to extend the debt limit, among other issues. and surely it is important that negotiations take place. we democrats have tried over 20 times now to move to a house-senate conference so that we can discuss and can negotiate our differences on a budget resolution, but regrettably republicans have refused to allow those negotiations to occur. but the underlying issue,
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madam president, is this -- whether while negotiations are under way our government should be open and serving the american people. democrats believe government should be functioning during negotiations. for that matter, we believe because government performs important duties it should always be open and functioning. and while those negotiations are under way, we surely should not have the threat of a global economic meltdown hanging over our nation. the american people don't want the government to be shut down or for the united states to default on its obligations while negotiations take place or at any other time, for that matter. no one knows how long negotiations will take. in the meantime, there are real hardships being imposed on the american people because of the shutdown. vital public services are being impaired across all of government. nutrition assistance for women and children, head start
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programs for school children, research grants at the national science foundation, badly needed repairs to our highways, bridges, among hundreds of other programs. now, i think all of us agree that negotiations are more than disaicial, they are essential, but the issue looming before us is not that. it's whether the government will be open and the threat of default will be lifted while we negotiate. negotiations could last a while, so they should take place while the government is functioning. it is unconscionable that americans are denied services and benefits while we negotiate. it is also unacceptable that those negotiations take place when one side has placed a bomb on the negotiating table and set the timer. let me put it this way. if in the future i came to my
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republican colleagues and said that as chairman of the senate armed services committee i'm not going to allow the defense bill to come out of the committee until the senate raises taxes on the wealthiest 1% of americans, something i very much favor, well, what would be the result? they would reject my ultimatum, and rightly so. threats to do immense damage unless i get my way on an issue are plainly the wrong way to legislate and to get things done. such threats just push people to dig in deeper on their positions. the shutdown of our government is doing tremendous damage. we know the american people have suffered great harm because of the government shutdown, and we know the impact on our economy and the world economy would be severe if we default on our debt. who in this congress believes that the government should
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remain closed while we negotiate? who in this congress believes that the government should remain closed while we negotiate? who in this congress believes that a default on our obligations is not damaging? surely no more than a handful among us. cutting through all the fog and cutting through the talk of the talking heads is this point which i believe is unassailable. there is a lot of differences in negotiations, people have different positions on different issues, but i believe on -- this is an unassailable and undebatable point. the vast majority of the american people believe that while negotiations are going on, the government should be functioning and that we should not default on our obligations. sitting down together and discussing the many issues that
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our nation faces is essential, but it is also essential that we do so while the government is open and functioning and serving the american people. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i appreciate all of the speeches that are being given and all of them have a seed of possibility, but evidently we're not going to water them or try and grow them. we're just going to talk about possibilities. and there is enough blame to go around. it isn't just on one side. but i like to remind people of why we're here, hoping that we won't be here again. the reason that we're here is we didn't do the appropriations bills the way we're supposed to. now, i know that we had a budget process and the budget process got bogged down between the house and the senate, but obviously we have gotten past that problem because i noticed
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that on the calendar that we have a whole bunch of appropriations bills. i think actually all 12 of them that were supposed to pass. and the first one i think went on on june 27, so obviously they didn't feel constrained by not having a budget that was agreed to by the house and the senate. they set some parameters and came up with bills, so we're past that budget argument that there was no conference committee. i thought there should be a conference committee. there wasn't a conference committee. and while we're talking about conference committees, i have to mention that the last offer from the house that we voted on in regard to this shutdown was a request by the house to have a conference committee, a conference committee made up of the senate and the house to work out these problems before the shutdown went on this long, and the democrats voted against that unanimously. it seems to me like if they want
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a conference committee on a budget that was supposed to be done april 15 but that we bypassed and have done the appropriations for already, that that's kind of a weak argument for saying now that there shouldn't be a conference regarding all of these issues that are coming up right now. i don't know how you get this result without getting the two sides talking. neither side can solve the problem in the senate without some help from the other side. it's going to take 60 votes, and that means that neither side has the clear majority that's necessary to pass it. the -- the cloture vote that we voted on yesterday, that was to fix the credit cards of the federal government indefinitely, with no limits for another year through 2015. that amounted to $1.1 trillion of estimated additional debt for the country, for our kids and our grandkids. i used to talk a lot about our
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grandkids. then i moved it up to kids. now i'm talking about us. we're finally the ones that are at risk. and that should certainly make all of the seniors interested. but we went to the white house the other day and the president did a marvelous job of going through a speech and then questions and answers, and i was very disappointed at the end because the end speech was give me what i want for the shutdown in government, give me what i want for the debt limit increase, and then we can talk. the reason we're talking is because we have the government shut down and we have this looming debt ceiling problem. there ought to be other ways that we can talk, but we don't. and so like i say, there is plenty of -- plenty of blame to go around. this comment about we shouldn't
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do it piecemeal and that's in reference to what the house sent over in regard to what the senate said we were having, problems that people immediately recognized. and every one of those -- none of those have been voted on. none have been voted on. maybe they weren't that much of a crisis. i think we all agreed they were that much of a crisis, but the answer is always let's not do it piecemeal. do you know why the -- why the appropriations process has 12 separate budgets? 12 separate spending bills? it's so that we do it piecemeal, so that we can look at them with some depth and maybe get some clarity out of the spending that we're doing. when we wind up doing an omnibus bill, and that's where we are headed, everything will be grouped into one and it will be passed for the rest of the year, we won't get to look at any details. we won't get to make any amendments to it. we won't get to say what's
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effective and what isn't. and we will just keep doing what we have been doing, which is running up the national debt. we can't afford to keep doing that. i talked about the national parks being a problem. i specifically talked about the national parks that are revenue producers and how we shouldn't shut down the businesses that produce the revenue. well, i think in response to that that the states were allowed to take over national parks, but at their own expense, not from the revenue that would be generated by the -- by the park. and that creates some complications for yellowstone park because yellowstone park is shared by three states. they did that specifically so wyoming couldn't claim that yellowstone was wyoming's national park. so a little bit of it goes into montana and a little bit of it goes into idaho, and so it would require a joint agreement by the three states on exactly how that
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would work. and i am hoping that those three states are working out a plan for if this ever happens again. that's one of the things government ought to do is look at what the future possibilities are and say no, we're never going to have a shutdown, we're never going to have a debt ceiling crisis. we create those crises. we create them by putting definite deadlines on things, and then everything crescendos up to that point, and any of the people that are picked for the task force have a huge media listening group, and that's disincentive, actually, to get it solved before the deadline. the national institutes of health was mentioned as a problem that needed to be solved. armed forces who are on active duty training. veterans benefits, particularly veterans benefits for the year. compensation for furloughed federal employees. special nutrition programs. federal emergency management agency. the food and drug
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administration. continuing appropriations for head start. and salaries and related expenses of certain federal employees.$&ñ traditionally when we've had a situation like this when the employees do come back to work, they get compensated for the time they weren't there. you noi wha know what people ine think? how come we're paying people for not working? soy the solution was to get them all back to work. but then the people wouldn't be feeling the hurt out there. and if they don't feel the hurt, dhee know who to blame. and if they can blame one side or the other, that makes a difns in elections. that's not what this body is about. we should be about getting things done in the regular order, following the right spending process, which we don't do. and avoiding situations where we make it hurt. we've got a scwefts that's in effect. it is the first time that the
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federal appropriations, the federal spending has actually been cut since the korean wariments but it was a true cut. but it was a 2.3% cut. now, you won't find anybody agreeing that it was really 2.3%, even though that's what the law says. and that's because we didn't do our spending process in the proper order rs and so we got through eight mondes before the sequester went into effect. when it goes into effect with owl four months left, the 2.3% of the whole year's spending hags has to be taken out of the full year's budget. that made it 5.3%. i got visited by the head start folks from my state. they showed me what was going to happen if the sequester stayed in place. they were cut 7.5% and are projected to be cut 7.5% each year after this. if we did the appropriationspprs
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process at the beginning of the year, it would be 2.3%. so they should have been told to watch for 2.3% cuts. 5.3% for last year for the four months that they knew about it, although we knew about it for a whole year in advance, just didn't imagine that it would ever happen. so why 7.5%? i have to believe -- and from other spending things that i've seen by the people from wyoming coming to washington and telling me their dilemma -- i think that the washington bureaucracy is holding on to an overproportion of the money to keep their jobs in place instead of out there where the kids are. 7.5% when it should be 5.3% tells me that they -- that they -- they kept 2.2% for running washington. i don't think they think that that's a very important part of
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the spending process out there. the paper has been covering a number of things that people are having trouble with. one is a fellow that went into the rum-making business, and you can do that legally, and there are certain requirements that you have to meet. and now he can't sell the rum. and i thought, well, sure, his formula hasn't been approved, or there hasn't been an inspection of the premises or something disastrous like that. no, he can't do it because the fads hasn't approved the labels. i didn't even know we had a law that said that washington had to approve labels on liquor. i know that we used to have one that said that there were labels that had to go on cigarettes, but that didn't even require a senate and house or administrative or f.d.a. approval. it just required it.
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but evidently, if you're making rum, you have to have somebody approve your labels. i think i did run into that before and questioned it. but we don't have to be in this position. we could have the government running, people could be paid, but we need to do it through the regular process. we need to do 12 spending bills and do them over a period of at least a week each, and have amendments to it. there isn't an appropriator that's the ultimate answer for any spending bill. there isn't even a committee that's the ultimate answer for each spending bill. the reason that we have 100 people here and 435 people over there is so that we have 535 opinions on what could be unintended consequences or what is important or what isn't important. and if they are denied the right for amendments, they are being denied the right to voice for their constituents. it's not for us.
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it's for our constituents. and that's why amendments are important. we've had bills that have come up hey and we've worked on them for maybe three weeks with no votes on amendments, while they tried to negotiate for a limited amount of amendments. i appreciate that. i yield the floor. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from i had hivmen mi mi. hawaii. a senator: my colleague has talked about the need to get back to regular order so we can discuss our funding priorities. the fact of the matter is that, of course, we agree and the regular order would be to go to conference on the budget with -- which the senate passed way back in march.
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ms. hirono: and on a regular basis the democrats in the senate have requested unanimous consent to go to conference on that budget. in fact, only a few days ago we put in our 21st request for a unanimous consent to go to conference on our budget so that we can go to regular order and discuss and debate the priorities that are so important to all of us. and every single time a republican senator has objected to that request. madam president, like so many of my democratic colleagues have been doing, i come to the floor again today to discuss the urgent need to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. there can no longer be any doubt that the shutdown is hurting hundreds of thousands of families and businesses throughout our country. i and many of my colleagues have told the stories of these families and businesses and will
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continue to do so. this shutdown hurts real people in real places all cro across our country. keeping government running shouldn't be a partisan bavment yet the republicans who caused the shutdown in the 23eurs place seems to think they'd be doing democrats a favor by reaping government so that people can get back to work, get paid and pay their bills. the idea that congress should simply do its job isn't a favor to democrats. it is our responsibility to the american people. the idea that stopping congress from doing its job is somehow a valuable bargaining chip is incomprehensible to most people. since the beginning of the shutdown drien b driven by an ee faction of the republican party, hawaiian people have contacted me.
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they've spoken to me about the impact on themselves and their families and businesses. i have a talked about the toll on our federal employees, i've shared stories about small businesses impacted by the closure of our national parks. i am i've also been in tact contact with hawaii's business community, our military, our state and local government and others. today i'd like to share some more shutdown stories and also underscore that allowing the u.s. to default on paying our bills would only serve to make things much, much worse. one woman twroat me, "my husband and i are both federal employees are the forest service. we both work in wildlife fire. i am currently furloughed and he is working. but of course neither of us will receive a paycheck. we have three children, ages 5, 3, and 1. my current day-care costs are $2,300 month. i can't stop paying for day care
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because i'll require a two to four-week notice. and i will lose our spot for when i do go back to wonch the money is what we have saved for things like christmas and a special rakevacation together se www.gone for several months this summer fighting fires. this shut downis extremely stressful for me and i am very concerned that it is going to go on for several weeks more. the hawaii chamber of commerce representing history of 1,000 hawaii businesses of all sizes also sent me stories from some of their mesmtion the president of one business wrote, "60% of our business is with the department of defense. we move military household goods around the world as they are restationed. as a direct result of the government shutdown, we've scwhrus to lay off 416 our 80 employees until this is resolved
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and the government starts booking moves. we informed the affected employees that all our staff will be working reduced hours. we anticipate that each day of this shutdown is costing the company over $18,000." another business owner wrote, "my business is working on opening a fourth location in a shopping center. i was advised by our banker that s.b.a. loan approval and execution may be held up due to this debacle in d.c." he goes on, "how is that thoapg move our economy forward? if we ran our business the way you are leads on capitol hill ran our country, wcialtion the closed for business sign would not be far behind." madam president, these are stories about things that are happening now as a result of the shutdown. if the u.s. were to fail to pay our bills, things would be much worse. interest rates would skyrocket, our capital markets could freeze, and our nation's
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borrowing costs over the long-term would require more of our federal budget. in other words, a default would end up costing our economy and consumers billions of dollars. our country has never defaulted before. the consequences of such a default are so serious that everyone from the u.s. chamber of commerce to the national are association of manufacturers have warned the republicans, in particular, to avoid such a catastrophe. even the uncertainty over a possible default is enough to hurt middle-class families and businesses. for example, after the last manufactured fiscal fiasco in 2011, mortgage interest rates rose. if you were a family looking to refinance or buy a new home, your mortgage would have cost you $100 per month more after the u.s. nearly defaulted than it would have cost you before. that means $100 less for
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families across the country to spend on groceries, gas, and other things. for most working people, $100 means a lot. imagine piling another $100 a month or more on the family with three young children i mentioned earlier. we can't do that to them or other families like them. and, remember, in 2011 we didn't default. the uncertainty alone caused mortgage interest rates to rise. things would have been much worse if there had been a default. and yet here we are again. as incomprehens-- it is incomprehensible that there are default deniers among my colleagues who refuse to believe that default will be quat strovic for all -- catastrophic for all of us when we have the 2011 experience staring us in the face. a default would be like an immediate tax on everything that middle-class families do. if interest rates explode, the cost of living in hawaii and everywhere else would rise. student loan rates would go up.
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that'll reduce access to a quality education for many people. credit cards, car payments, mortgages -- all of these would become more expense six the cost of doing bliss go up. the cost of borrowing money to start or keep businesses going will go up. there is not a single good thing that will come from our country defaulting on paying its debts. as i've mentioned in past remarks, a government shutdown doesn't give businesses a pause in meeting their commitments. they still have to make rent. they still have to maintain staff. they still have to pay to keep the lights on. imagine if the cost of all these things suddenly went up and still nothing was coming in. that's exactly where many businesses would find themselves if the u.s. defaults. in addition, with our economy still recovering from the economic crisis of 2008, finally we have businesses contemplating growing. those plans will likely be put on hold or abandoned altogether.
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we should be growing jobs, strengthening the middle class, creating opportunities for our families and businesses. a default crisis would do exactly the opposite. in day 12 of the shutdown, and with the potential default looming on the horizon, it is way past time to give our families, businesses, and communities certainty and security. we need to open government and avoid a totally manufactured catastrophe. let's get on with it. while i'm disappointed that our republican colleagues yesterday failed to support going forward to do just that, i ask them to reconsider their position so that we can find a path that protects our families, our communities, and our economy. i yield the floor. ms. landrieu: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. ms. landrieu: thank you, madam president. i want to follow up on the words
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of my distinguished colleague from hawaii and also comment on a few points that the senator from wyoming, senator enzi, made in this important debate that's happening in washington today, and actually a debate that's happening all over our country. first i want to associate myself with the effort under way by senator collins from maine and senator klobuchar from minnesota, senator pryor from arkansas and others on both sides of the aisle that have been working throughout the evening, the night, early morning hours, talking, trying to find a way forward. i thank both leader reid and leader mcconnell for blessing that effort and trying to find a way forward because as the senator from hawaii said this is a very, very dangerous situation. and despite the fact that there are members on the other side of
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the capitol in the republican party, not in the democratic party, in the republican party that continue to doubt that there will be any ramifications from default, i hate to say it but they are going to be sorry they uttered those words. this is a very, very serious situation. the u.s. treasury bond is the safest investment in the world today. let me repeat, the safest investment in the world today. think about it. if you had a little bit of money, would you invest it in russia, would you invest it in saudi arabia, would you invest it in china, would you -- where would you invest it? now, the government of the united states isn't perfect, but relatively speaking in all aspects of the world, what is the safest, most surest group that is likely to pay their
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debts? that would be the united states and has been that way for over 225 years. but the republicans in the house have decided to put that on the line, that on the line because they don't like the affordable care act. or they put all of that on the line because they don't like the way the budget process is working. they then double down and said not only are we going to put the full faith and credit of the united states at risk, we're going to shut the government down while we do that until we get our way on a specific piece of legislation. now, i know that there are principles underlining the affordable care act that are worth debating, how big the size of government should be, how much the federal government should spend, how much local
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governments should spend, what level of revenues should be required to pay for it and who should put up those revenues in individuals and businesses. those are important things to decide. we try to make those decisions every day. but for a group of 80 republicans, three of whom are in my own state, sorry to say, three representatives signed a letter saying if we don't get exactly what we want on the affordable care act which by the way passed the congress, was upheld by the supreme court and is being implemented in a majority of states, we are going to put the full faith and credit of the united states at risk and literally the ramifications of this are too massive to describe. so we have only a few days -- i
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wouldn't even say we have a few days. we are already feeling the results of this hostage taking by a few republicans in the house of representatives, and i am praying and hoping that my colleagues in the senate will live up to the great hope of the senate, which was at times like these to walk back from the ledge, reason together and find a way forward. i see my good friend from tennessee here, and i think if there is any one that could help us do that, he would be one that could and along with senator mccain and senator graham and others who have been mayors, who have been elected officials for a long time who understand how you can get wound up, and it's really important to wawmly wind down and figure this out. and i will yield in a minute to the senator if he has a question, but i do want to say because my argument is not with
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him that when senators come to the floor to say that democrats haven't wanted to go along with the regular process, i want to again because i came to the floor earlier as an appropriator, i want to say that the first step in an appropriations process is to get a budget. and so the democrats amazingly were able to get a budget. we haven't for four years in the senate. so we got a budget. the republicans got a budget. two completely different approaches to how the government should be funded, how much should be spent, how much money should be raised, two different approaches. but you know what? it's two different parties. we have a democratic party controlling here, a republican party controlling there. that's the first step. two budgets. they are very different. we need to go to conference on that budget, but the democrats here have asked our republican colleagues that sit right across that aisle please let us go to the budget committee 21 times.
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now, i'm going to put this into the record. we started on april 23. senator reid requested unanimous consent. senator toomey from pennsylvania objected. i'm not going to read them all. let's fast forward to may 14. senator warner asked unanimous consent to go to conference. senator mcconnell blocked. then go into june, june 4. senator murray asked unanimous consent, senator rubio blocked. then we say go to july 17, senator murray asked again. senator mike lee blocked. now, they blocked going to budget because the tea partiers in this party, the small group of republicans said we'll go to budget, but you can't talk about raising any revenues in budget. we'll go to a budget to try to solve the budget problems of the united states, but you democrats cannot talk about raising
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revenues because the only thing we want to talk about is cutting, cutting, cutting, cutting, that's all. they'll cut anything. they will cut head start, they will cut education, they will cut the e.p.a. i don't like the e.p.a. very much myself, but that's all they want to do is cut. so we said you can't solve a problem with just one side of that equation. we don't know where the revenues might need to come from, but there has got to be a balance. and we have to start paying down our long-term debt. that's one thing i want to say again. i don't want anyone in this government or world or my state or the nation to think that democrats aren't concerned about the debt. we are concerned about the debt. we don't like the debt being this high. we want to try to find ways, and we have reduced with our republican colleagues spending trillions of dollars, and the senator from tennessee, to his credit, because i have not been in those negotiations, i was not part of the group of eight but i supported a lot of what they
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have done. i was not on the simpson-bowles but i supported a lot of that. to his credit, he has really tried to come up with a grand bargain to get our country paying down our long-term debt, but in a smart way that strengthens our economy and does not pull the rug out from underneath it. but because the senator from texas, senator cruz, through the chair, senator cruz from texas, because senator lee from utah said no, we can't go to budget because, you know, unless you democrats agree before you even get to the negotiating table that we can't raise any revenue. that's what the fight was about, so we never went to budget. so then when you don't go to the budget conference, then you can't start negotiating the individual bills. my responsibility is to negotiate homeland. and i want to say i'm very proud of my colleague, senator coats.
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he and i were given a number by our leadership, and we have completely put our bill together with virtually no disagreement on a lower number than we had last year. we had to cut a lot of things out. and i might say we were asked by some republican leaders to add, add a $700 million project that i had to absorb into my budget because of something that the republicans asked for and the president supported, i want to be honest. i wasn't a big fan of it, but the president and the republicans wanted it, so i had to compromise and put it in my bill without any additional money and take some things out to make room for it. that's what we do around here. that's what we used to do around here. we're not doing it much right now. so for anyone to come to the floor to try to say to democrats, you know, you all
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aren't the ones that want to go to regular order, you all aren't the ones, we will go to budget. patty murray, the senator from washington, could not be working any harder. she is one of the most respected members in this whole body, and i'm not just saying that. she is very humble. she is very smart. she is very much willing to negotiate. and the senator from maryland, senator mikulski, is probably one of the most popular senators that's ever served in the senate literally. everyone likes her. she is not difficult to work with. now, she's tough. she is not difficult to work with, so we have got really two extraordinary people here trying to work through this. but yet, we're not really so much being blocked by our side on the senate even though they have blocked 21 times. they are being run by a group of extreme radical party members on their side that have now gotten
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the republican party in complete disarray. that's not good for them, it's not really good for the democrats, and it's definitely not good for the country. so now we have to figure out our way forward. i know i have run into my ten minutes. i don't know if the senator wants to speak or if he wants me to yield for a question. i'm happy to wrap this up in a minute. to recap, i'm willing to be part of the common ground to find a solution, but i will not allow as long as i am on this floor today -- and i will be here for a couple of hours -- for anyone to suggest that democrats have been holding up the process. we have been trying to get to a budget committee for six months. we have been trying to negotiate appropriation bills. but we will not be held hostage nor the people in the -- the federal employees or the businesses or nonprofits or our states and mayors and cities because republicans can't even go to the negotiation until they
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get 100% of their way or until the government is shut down, it can't open, or until we default on our debt. we cannot negotiate under those terms. we can negotiate on terms where the hostages are freed and we sit down like grown-ups and work this out. i'm hoping we can do that. and i yield the floor and i thank the senator for his patience. mr. corker: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: i thank the senator from louisiana for her desire to seek a solution and her desire to work together on so many issues. look, i don't rise to blame either side right now, i don't. let's face it, i have said from day one the effort that was taking place in the house regarding the health care bill was not an effort that was going to lead to a conclusion. it was an overreach. i know that, you know that, they
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know that, the country knows that, and so we have ended up where we are. but in fairness, what's happened over the last couple of days is is -- on the other side of the aisle has gotten one tick too cute. we had a group of folks that had an idea. i thought it was a good starting place, candidly. it had six republicans and six democrats, who had an idea of a way to move beyond this. let's face it. we all know what happens around here. two nights ago, the white house weighed in. leadership on the democratic side pulled back a hair, asked the 12 folks not to have a press conference today to announce what their efforts were, and the fact is we are where we are. now, let me say this. i am perfectly happy with the two leaders negotiating a deal, and i want to support the leaders in negotiating a deal, i really am. but at the end of the day, what's happened, let's face it, is we have had a little bit of a
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pullback where house republicans overreached, no question. that's also happened over the last couple of days is there has been a little bit of a push to overreach and undo what happened with the budget control act back in 2011 where budget caps were put in place, the president signed it, it passed components of it, it passed the senate, so it just as much as the health care law is law, this also is law. and so what we have had over the last few days is a little bit of a pullback. i hope that it's temporary, but what i would say is look, at this moment in time, we have actually had a little bit of problem on both sides of the aisle, let's face it. i think we have got an opportunity over the next 24 hours for that to be worked out. and so what i would do is i would just encourage -- i would encourage the leadership to continue on this pace.
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as we all know, it takes four days to move anything across the senate floor. i think we all know the debt ceiling is this thursday. and so what i hope is going to happen is that both sides will admit, look, there is a little bit of -- there is a little bit of an issue here on both sides. i think that there is a strong desire by the vast majority of our caucus over here to do something that is -- is a pragmatic, good government step. at the end of the day, look, these events have always been used in times when you have tremendous concerns about our financial situation, and they have always been used as a back stop to hopefully negotiate some reforms. because we have been on the wrong page for so long, which i just admitted to, we're not even in the right book, okay, but we have definitely been on the wrong page, we finally are on
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the right page, let's face it. as a matter of fact, we're not only on the right page finally where we're focused on fiscal issues relative to a debt ceiling and relative to a continuing resolution to fund government, we're final on fiscal solutions and not only are we on the right page, we're finally on the right paragraph. we're focusing also on discussing mandatory reforms. okay. so we're on the right subject. we have got the two leaders that are now talking to each other. and by the way, i think that 12 -- the six democrats and six republicans that came together have helped that effort. now, again, there was a little bit of a pullback when i do think the white house kind of encouraged, hey, let's see if there is some way we could bust the sequester. in fairness, i'm pretty sure that happened, and i think the senators in this chamber, pretty sure that happened. and, you know, i know there have been some concerns about some appropriators at the caps that exist. i understand that. but it is the law.
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so i hope what will happen is we will end up with an agreement. the time is so short we will not really be able to do anything substantial on mandatory issues, i think we all know that, but i hope we will end up with an agreement that at least sets the framework for us to move ahead, move this behind us, as we should, but sets the framework up to -- to really move into dealing with the mandatory issues in such a way as they need to be dealt with. look, i think it's unreasonable to ask people on our side of the aisle to have a trillion-dollar debt ceiling increase and not put some kind of framework in place to look at some of the mandatory issues that we know are driving our country into the ground the way they are. i think there ought to be some framework for that to be
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discussed over the next 60, 90 days. the house has looked at six weeks. some people have said that's too short. but it seems to me doing something for the short term to get government up and the threat of the debt ceiling behind us, but does something over the short term gives us some time to harness that energy that the senator from louisiana was just alluding to. i know the presiding officer has intimated some of the same things. there is some energy in this body to deal with that, but the fact is we haven't. a big part as i mentioned has been we have been on the wrong subject for a long time, we're finally on the right one. let's come to a place where we can now focus on the things we should have been focused on all along relative to debt ceilings and c.r.'s. i think the less we do here -- and i don't think anybody that i have heard in recent times has been doing this. the less that we can do to sort of barb each other at this moment because this is a moment where we really do need to resolve this issue. this is not a moment to take shots at each other. this is kind of the moment.
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we all know where we have been. we know the path we have been down. it's been winding. it's been in the wrong direction. we're now in the right place. let's let these leaders work it out. and i hope that they will. and i hope that while the democrats say this is settled law, the health care bill, the affordable care act, i hope that democrats will also say, and republicans -- i should have said republicans on the last one -- that the budget control act is settled law. and we've agreed to some caps. there's a more intelligent way of getting to those caps, and i think there's probably 70 people in this body that agree and that is we could do some mandatory reforms and substitute those for some of the discretionary cuts and still end up at the same levels of spending that are in this bill and it will be more intelligent for our nation and it would be -- it would make our
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nation much stronger and i think there's a lot of desire to talk about those kinds of things, done in the right way. there's all kinds of mandatory reforms. they're not the same thing. i know the senator from alabama, who just came into the chamber, made note of that yesterday. there's all kind of mandatory changes and they're not the same, they're not equal, and we need to look at those. we need to honor the trusts that have been set up. but look, i think we finally have gotten to a pretty good place. i really do. and i think both now, -- now both sides are a little bit at fault and, you know, people might discern one being more than another. now it's time for all of us to focus on the right pace, the right paragraph to get this done and i think we can as long as people don't try to, as the senator from louisiana mentioned a minute ago, as long as people don't try game this out into
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which gets a bigger win, which -- which ends up with a political win. and i'm afraid a little of that stepped in over the last 24 hours. i hope it's going to dissipate and i hope we're going toned up in a place that's good -- end up in a place that's good for our nation. that's what we all -- that's what we all came here to do. and i think it's going to happ happen, although i will say, i have been a little bit concerned because the last 24 hours, that has not been what these conversations have been about. so hopefully we'll get back on the page we were on about 36 hours ago and -- and really focus on doing something that is bipartisan, that will stand the test of time and will go over to -- to the house in such a way that has a tremendous amount of support coming out of this chamber and is not something where, you know, one side tries to peel off five or six of the other side and we end up --
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candidly, that's not going to stand the test of time. that's not going to take us to a place that solves this problem in time to keep the kind of things that the senator from louisiana mentioned might happen in we don't. so my time is up. in all likelihood. and i yield the floor for that reason. the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. ms. landrieu: thank you. let me just respond -- thank you, madam president -- for five minutes to my good friend and then i'm going to have to chair taic the chairchair -- to take d relieve you, as required, and thank you for your consideration. let me say again how much i respect the senator from tennessee. no one on his side of the aisle, except perhaps maybe for the good senator from alabama, has spent more time on budget issues because that's actually the senator from alabama's job. but the senator from tennessee has taken it upon himself to be a leader, and i do agree with him that we are in on the right page, the right chapter, in the right woul book to talk about se fiscal issues. i don't agree that the strategy to get us here was the right
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strategy. but we're here. no sense in pointing fingers. i do agree that the senate needs to really try to find our way forward, because the senator from tennessee is correct, where we are now, there are no winners and losers. it's just about doing what's right for the american people. i want to do that for the state of louisiana. he wants to do that for the state of ten. and we have -- he wants to do that for the state of tennessee. and we have lots of people who are counting on us to try to lower our temperatures and find a way forward. secondly, i also agree with him that whatever we can come up with here has to be broadly, broadly supported on both sides or at least core supported on both sides because, you know, it's -- it's going to have to be something we can bring to the house and say, look, this is the best we can do and we cannot go over this cliff. but thirdly, i want to make a point. on this budget control act that's law -- and let me just say, the affordable care act, in
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lawyer's terms, and i'm not one, they would say it's not settled law. it's law that's passed. it's law that's been upheld by the supreme court but there haven't been enough court tests. but i'll take your word. it's settled as far as the fact that it passed. but this is the point i'd like to make to my good senator from tennessee, my good friend. the house is willing to take the sequester, which is the lower number, the lowest number, but what they do, which is very disingenuous and what the democrats will not be for, is taking basically -- basically taking the lower number overall but keeping defense at a very high number and, therefore, cutting the heck out of everybody else. no agriculture money, no education money, no health care money, no nothing. but they want to keep defense whole. now, that is what the house is trying to do. i realize that's not what my colleagues on the republican side here want to do. but that's our problem, the
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senator from ten knows, is not just take -- the senator from tennessee knows, is not just taking that number but how that number is going to be allocated across appropriations. and just to say, that's how the defense appropriations bill is put together. it absorbs all of the money and leaves all the other budgets starving. now, i know defense is important. i'm a democrat that supported a strong defense. i have -- i have stood against irresponsible cuts to the defense department. but to take a lower number in the whole budget and say, okay, we'll take a lower number but we give it all to defense, and then you can't fund anything in health and education and social services that are so important, that's not right either. so -- and one more point. i said one but one more point is this. and the senator from tennessee has been very brave because there aren't that many brave people around here, but he's been one of the brave ones that have said, you know, we may need to raise a few revenues here and there, we can't solve this whole problem by cuts alone. and so in the last big deal that we did, we were able to figure
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out how to raise some revenue and also make some cuts so that we could have a good way, a steady way to balance our budget and not pull the rug out from underneath this very promising economy. i mean, i've got 5% unemployment in louisiana. i'm not talking as a state that doesn't have jobs. our problem is we have so many jobs, we need people to fill them. it just breaks my heart that we're about ready to pull the plug on that. and we're close. and i know how much my people are counting on us getting this done. so i want to thank the senator but i hope that he'll also stand up to some of the other voices over there that say we can solve this problem by cutting, cutting, cutting and we can just cut mandatory programs, we can just cut entitlements, that's all we have to worry about. and i think he knows that that is not correct. and i yield the floor. mr. corker: madam president, i know the senator from -- i want to just take 30 seconds and say to -- for the record, i don't -- i don't want anybody to think
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that i thought the strategy that was undertaken was the right strategy. i -- if i mis-- was misunderstood, i think i've been really clear that i did not think that took us to a positive place. but point is, we are where we are and we're finally on the right page. let's just stay there and solve this problem. with that, i want to yield the floor. and i see the outstanding and distinguished senator from alabama, a neighboring state, is here, someone i very much enjoy working with, and i look forward to his comments and yield the floor. mr. sessions: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: madam president, i thank the chair for the opportunity to share some thoughts. and senator corker for his commitment and leadership on these difficult budget issues. as a businessman. as a man who ran -- fabulously ran an important city in tennessee, he knows you have to live within your means. and there are limits to what we can do and maintain a healthy
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financial future for america. it just is. and so that's -- that's important i think for all of us. i wanted to first respond to a couple of things that senator reed ansenatorreid, and senatord earlier this afternoon. it really surprised me. first of all, he said there's no plan to break the caps. i was, as the senator from tennessee was, we were with the president yesterday and he said there's strong push from democratic senators to spend above the limits of the budget control act that all agreed to in august of 2011. that is buttressed virtually conclusively by the fact that after the budget control act numbers were agreed to, it allowed growth, substantial growth, instead of growing
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$10 trillion over the next ten years, we would reduce the growth of the budget to $8 trillion. it's not really a cut over the ten-year period. the president submitted a budget in january of 2012, less than six months later, that would spend a trillion dollars over those cuts. cut half of the -- and the democratic budget that just passed this year -- first time in four years -- it would have increased spending by $1 trillion over those cuts. so i'm a little bit uneasy here because i think there is an effort and will be an effort, which is unacceptable to deal with those cuts or break the caps that limb the growth of spend -- that limit the growth of spending srkts right waspendingo say it. of course, there are some cuts that we need to make in this
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business. and then i think senator reid and durbin talked about president bush's problems with deficits. and he doesn't do a great job in containing deficits. the highest deficit he had in one year was $487 billion. t the year before he left office, the deficit he had was $167 billion. president obama took office and rammed through, with unanimous democratic support, a stimulus bill that added $1 trillion to the debt of the united states. the biggest single spending bill ever -- every penny of that borrowed, because we didn't have any money be, we were already in debt, so we borrowed $1 trillion to spend all that. and for four consecutive years -- well, really five years now -- we will have averaged over $1 trillion in deficits per year.
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now we've never been over $500 billion a year before that. $1 trillion is $1,000 billion. so his average in five years is unprecedented. it's stunning. we've never, ever seen such a debt accumulation in such a rapid period of time. i think we need to understand that. our colleagues continue to defend it and still want to spend more, and their budget would spend $1 trillion more, that they voted on and passed in this conference. and so they use the word "extreme" to anybody who wants to reduce spending and try to attack people who want to reduce spending. senator durbin talked about, we need a sound dollar. well, there is is the dollar sr today, senator corker, because
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we, this congress, reached a bipartisan agreement to reduce spending by $2.1 trillion, the growth of spending, by that much? isn't it stronger today than it would have been if we hadn't done that? so, yes, it was a tense time in august of 2011. people weren't quite sure how it would all end, but it ended in a modest reduction in the growth of spending, which i think made the country better for it. and the last thing we should ever contemplate is to backing off of that agreement and not at least ad theerg that agreement. we need do -- adhering to that agreement. we need to do a good deal more. i wanted to share a few thoughts first in general. i will go into detail if we have time about the nature of the budget control act, explain that in more detail. but we've heard the word "extremist" thrown around a lot over the recent days.
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let me share with you what i think is extreme. extreme is adding $6 trillion to the debt of the united states in five years. that's extreme. and saying there's no spending that we can cut. we've cut every dime that we can cut. extreme is forcing a health care law through that the american people opposed and telling them that you can take $500 billion out of medicare and strengthen medicare and then fund obamacare. double-counting $500 billion that will come back to haunt us in the future. extreme is refusing to make any concession, negotiation, or alteration to a health care that is going to financially bankrupt us. it will add another $6 trillion to the long-term debt of america, almost as much as social security, according to the government accountability
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office. they said it would be fully paid for, the president said in a joint session of congress it would not add one dime to the debt, now or ever, period. and the government account blgh- and the government accountability office says it will add $6 billion to the lon long-term debt of america much this is ho -- this is how a natn goes bankrupt. extreme is knowing that we are on an unsustainable debt path and refusing to do anything about it. in the last five years we've spent more than $15 trillion and added more than $6 trillion to the debt. never has so great a sum been spent for so little benefit. consider, nearly 60 million working-age americans aren't working. they're out of work.
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i wish everybody had 5% unemployment rate, but the truth is, unemployment rate in the country is 7.3%, and we have the lowest workplace participation since 1975. there are fewer people working today than there were in 2007. that's the key number. how many people are workin work. our population is up, but the number of people having jobs is down and more and more of those are part-time jobs. median household income is lower than it's been since 1998. two-thirds of job creation this year has been part-time. we spend $1 trillion last year on welfare and poverty programs. state and federal combined. one in six americans are on food stamps. let me repeat, one in six people in this nation are receiving food stamps from the federal
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government. this economy is not healthy. despite the endless inundation of federal funds in some of our big cities, one in three children still live in poverty in our nation's capital. in nearby baltimore, one in three residents are on food stamps, and one in three youth live in poverty. this isn't a booming, growing economy. we borrowed, taxed, spend -- it hasn't produced results that are good for our country. growth is way below what it was projected to be at this time. they were predicting 3.5% or 4% growth. we're not likely to have 2% growth this year. the only people who seem to be gaining in this economic plan is the political class who came up with it. and those with enough lobbyists to profit from it. what does the president say? what does senator reid say?
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what do our friends on the other side of the aisle snai spend more money. that's what they say we need to do. produce a budget that spends another $1 trillion. and we've got to go to conference on that budget, they say. kind of odd, after four years of not even producing one at all. now they're anxious to take one that adds $1 trillion to the debt to cfns. -- to conference. put more people on government aid. energy prices too high. old people, mail people another check. they're hurting. send out government checks. factory closed. mail another check out to help people who didn't get a job. your school failing. send them 0 another check. and then there's in one -- too many americans unemployed. bring in foreign workers to do the job. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. sessions: madam president, so we're ten minutes -- the presiding officer: the senator is correct.
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mr. sessions: i would ask unanimous consent to have two additional minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. sessions: thank the chair. so by what definition can we call what we've been seeing for the last five years as success? it's just not. that's the problem. we've taxed moshings we've spent more, we've regulated more, we've borrowed moshings we've stimulated more. and it hasn't produced solid growth. we've had the slowest recovery from a recession since the great depression. so this is the plan: reduce wages that results in this -- a reduction in wages, an increase in unemployment, more part-time jobs, more regulations, higher energy costs. and we make that up how? well, the government will just borrow money and subsidize people in need. that's not the kind of compassion i think we need. i think we need to be asking ourselves, what is really
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happening that's hurting americans and why can't we create a government that's leaner, more productive, that allows growth and prosperity to occur, and not tax, regulate, and borrow our country into debt? it's a fundamental choice the nation is going to have to be dealing with. indeed, my colleagues fundamentally are saying -- saying this: well, we've got a problem in washington. we don't have enough money. we just don't have enough money. we acknowledge we're borrowing too much money. the debt is too high. we're on an unsustainable course. but, see, the problem is not us. we haven't overspent. we don't have programs that are running out of control. we have no unmanaged agencies and departments. the problem is, american people, you haven't sent enough money. why don't you send some more money. that's what we need to have in this country. the american people need to understand how smart we are, how
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good we've managed their money, and if they'll just send us more money, we can figure out all of this and the government will take care of it. it's your fault, america. you're hardheaded. you won't send us more money. send more money and we'll fix the problems in america. i reject that idea. we've got to get our house under control and make our government leaner, focused on productivity, and serving the interests of people that are hurting right now. they are not doing well, and this economy is not doing well. i sigh othe see other senators , madam president. i thank the chair for the opportunity to share these thoughts and would yield the floor. ms. heitcamp: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. ms. heitcamp:man, i was presiding diewferg the last exchange between the great senators from louisiana and
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tennessee. i was struck, as a junior member of this body i get an opportunity to sit in the chair quite a bit. and i would just suggest to anyone, if you want to see someone who came to the floor, who predicted this outcome, who said it very, very early on, senator corker gave what i call "the box canyon speech." he did it repeatedly because he could see what this would do if we continued to take hard-line positions that really would achieve absolutely no results. and i think he has been a champion in calling out all of us to behave responsibly, to behave in a fiscally appropriate way, and so he has been a great mentor to very many of us who are very new this body. we don't always share the same philosophies, but i certainly appreciate his willingness to tell the truth and to talk common sense. that's really why i came to the floor today, because i initially -- initially when i came here, i
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thought i would write a book. that makes no sense, talking about all the things that we do and what we say and how what we do doesn't really match up all that well what we say. and i -- i have to admit that in the last couple weeks my father's voice has come over and over to me. my father never went to high school, had an eighth-grade education but was part of the greatest generation, a world war ii vet. and he had an expression for his seven kids and nine years -- seven of us in nine years. when we would do things that he thought lacked common sense, he would say, "how darn dumb are ya?" and i'm sure you know, it wasn't darn. but i will use that in the interest of propriety here. so i rise today to talk about those things that we are doing now that make no sense. you have heard in the last hour and a half a lot of discussion about fiscal accountability and
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fiscal responsibility. senators coming with their perspective on how we need to live within our means. i totally agree. but think about this: think about where we are right now today, adding to our debt and deficit by a dysfunction that is completely made right here in washington, d.c. i'm going to start -- i may mention three things. the first thing is the house of representatives consistently not voting -- not taking up the c.r., which was negotiated, you know, short-term, negotiated, agreed to, but not putting that c.r. often the floor for a vote. but then voting unanimously -- the same people who voted to not let people work voted to pay people not to work. think about what the american public sees when they see that, that we won't let people who want to work -- they know their work is piling up.
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we have read -- "the washington post" has been replete with stories about people who want to get back to their jobs, they want to be public servants. so we vote -- s so they can't go work but we pay them not to go to work. we won't let them work, but we pay them not to go to work. and, in the meantime, we don't have anyone to check out disaster accounts in north dakota, we don't have b.l.m. permits being issued in indian country to help the struggling indian nations in my state achieve some economic parity, we don't have things getting done. and there's no bill over there in this headline c.r. -- that's what i call t whatever is in the headline, we'll pass a bill to fix that. that's no way to run a government. it makes no sense. and let's talk about the debt. let's talk about the need to control our debt and have a deficit reduction and a long-term plan to paying down our debt. why is it important?
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because we pay interest on that, a understanand every dollar of e pay, that's another dollar we don't have pour head start or education or research or for higher education. so this is a real problem. what are redoing? we have people who have said, it doesn't matter. we don't need to pay our debt. we can just decide which bills we're going to pay. and i'm like, every person in america, they know that when they go to check their credit score, if you could -- if you are going to get a car loan, right? get a car loan and you want to go to the bank and get a car loan, they say, you don't have a high enough credit score so we're going to deny you a car loan. they go, but, what's the problem? they say, you missed cried card payments. and you missed your mortgage payment. but you i always paid my car loan. that's not the way it works. that is not the way it works. what they know and what the american people know is if you don't pay all your bills,


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